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Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather
give place unto wrath ; for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Rom. xii. 19. Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me; I will render to the man according to his work. Prov. xxiv. 29. See also Lev. xix. 28. Recompense to no man evil for
evil. Rom. xii. 17. JUDGE ye then, my brethren, would it be wise to snatch the rod out of the all-powerful hand of God, to take it into our own,
was it in our power to do it? We are taught by the holy prophet not to avenge ourselves, it being daring presumption to usurp God's province, and to step into his throne. He that chastiseth the nations, shall he not correct? Might may overcome right for a time, to try God's children; but whether that is done with a close hand so as not to be discovered, or with a high hand, 80 as not to be controlled, God will, in his due time, shew himself, and assert his right of vengeance against all that would take it from him. It is therefore our wisdom to call to mind our blessed Lord's silence when he suffered," who when he was reviled, reviled not again, when he suffered he threatened not,” and to copy after it, committing ourselves to him that judgeth righteously.
Grace dwells with justice on the throne,
And men that love thy word
The counsels of the Lord.
When God, in his own sov'reign ways,
Conies down to save th' opprest,
And he'll restrain the rest.
If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.
2 Cor. v. 17. LET no man be discouraged from coming to CHRIST, because he finds not in himself that godly sorrow for sin, that ability to repent, that disposition of heart which he desires to have: we must first be in CHRIST before we are new creatures. This is a common fault among us; we would fain have something before we come. We think God's pardons are not free, but we must bring something in our hand; whereas the proclamation runs thus : " Buy without money;" that is, come without any excellency at all: because we are commanded to come, and take the water of life freely." Therefore do not say, I have a fretful disposition, and a hard heart, and cannot mourn for sin as I should, therefore I will stay till that be done.
It is all one as if you should say, I must go to the physician, but I will have my wounds well, and my disease healed first. The end of going to Christ is, that this very hardness of thy heart may be taken away; that this very deadness of thy spirit may be removed ; that thou mayest be enlightened, quickened, healed ; that thou mayest hate sin, for he is thy Physician ; look not for sanctification, nor for genuine fruits of righteousness, till thy soul is united unto CHRIST by a living faith ; for it is faith that purifies the heart and works (i. e. produces good works) by love. Thou must first be in CHRIST, grafted into CHRIST by faith, before thou canst be a new creature.
Lord, graft me in thyself the vine,
And feed me from thy root,
And bear much heavenly fruit.
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are
not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 1
Cor. vi. 12. See Chapters x. 23, and viii. 8. MANY that are well affected to religion, and receive instructions of piety with pleasure and satisfaction, often wonder how it comes to pass that they make no greater progress in that religion which they so much admire. Now, the reason of it is, because religion lives only in their head, while something else has possession of their heart, and therefore they continue from year to year mere admirers and praisers of piety, without ever coming up to the reality and perfection of its precepts. If it be asked why religion does not get possession of their hearts ? the reason is, not because they live in gross sins or debaucheries, for their regard to religion preserves them from such disorders, but because their hearts are constantly employed, perverted, and kept in a bad state by the wrong use of such things as are lawful to be used; for our souls may receive very great hurt, merely by the abuse of innocent and lawful things. What is more innocent than rest and retirement ! and yet what more dangerous than sloth and idleness? What is more lawful than eating and drinking and yet what more destructive of virtue than sensuality and indulgence? How lawful and praise-worthy is the care of a family? and yet what so prejudicial as an anxious worldly temper? Reader, follow the apostle, and beware of lawful things; keep thy heart free from the power of them.
O Lord, direct me in the use
Of things that lawful are ;
And prove a fatal snare.
There are diversities of operations ; but it is the
same God which worketh all in all. 1 Cor. xi. 6. SOME believers are remarkable for the strength of their faith in trials, even unto death ; others for liveliness and activity in duty; others for wisdom, conduct, and prudence, in temporals and spirituals; others for their zeal in defence of the truth; others for knowledge in the mysteries of truth; others for meekness and patience; others for outward usefulness; and some for an inward and spiritual life of communion with God; but all these are the various gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit dividing severally to every man he will, and are given to profit withal. My fellow Christians, let us hence learn a lesson of forbearance to our brethren. It is not right to judge of another by thine own pattern. Art thou a warm and active Christian ? Condemn not him whose endowments may be more placid and contemplative than thine. He who now creeps as a snail in humble silence, may, by one lift of Divine power, be raised higher than thou art. The same may be said of other differences
the followers of Jesus: let us then no longer envy one another, or indulge a rash and censorious spirit; but rather covet earnestly the best gifts, and faithfully improve the talent committed to our trust, that each of us may receive that heartreviving word, “ Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
There is a voice of sov'reign grace,
Sounds from the sacred word ;
And trust upon the Lord.
And runs to this relief;
O help my unbelief.
Every good gift, and every perfect gift, is from
above. James i. 17. See also Job. i. 21.
READER, it is a point of the greatest importance for thee to know, that every evil thing is of thyself, and every good thing of God. Without faith we cannot be saved ; but, saith St. Paul, Eph. ii. 8, “By grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” We are called upon to repent; but in Acts v. 31, we read that Christ is exalted at the Father's right hand, to be a “ Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel.” We must be born again, but regeneration is wholly of God's will : “ which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John i. 13, Saving knowledge is likewise the gift of God: “ To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. xii. 11. Effectual calling is also of God's grace. 2 Tim. i. 9. Justification is of God's grace; we are justified freely. Adoption also is an act of
grace ; he vouchsafes that high privilege, not in common to all, but only to so many as he pleaseth. Perseverance in duty is also God's gift; for " preserved by the power of God to salvation.' Eternal life is also a gift ; for “ the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ.” A right knowledge of these things, reader, will keep thee humble and dependent upon God; and not only dispose thee to give him the glory of his grace, but to seek to him diligently for it.
Whate'er I have, or may possess,
It flows from God above;
And undeserved love.